SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS
Saint Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Solemnity of All Saints is a favourable occasion to raise our gaze from earthly realities, marked by time, to God’s dimension, the dimension of eternity and holiness.
Today’s Liturgy reminds us that holiness is the original vocation of every baptized person (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 40). In fact, Christ, who with the Father and with the Spirit alone is all holy (cf. Revelation 15:4), loved the Church as his Bride and gave himself up for her, in order to sanctify her (cf. Ephesians 5:25-26). For this reason all members of the People of God are called to become holy, according to the Apostle Paul’s affirmation: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). We are therefore invited to see the Church not only in her temporal and human aspect, marked by fragility, but as Christ wanted her to be, that is, in “the communion of saints” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 946). In the Creed we profess that the Church is “holy”, holy since she is the Body of Christ, an instrument of sharing in the sacred Mysteries — primarily in the Eucharist — and the family of Saints, to whose protection we are entrusted on the day of our Baptism.
Today we venerate this innumerable community of All Saints, who, through their different paths of life, show us the various ways to holiness, united by a common denominator: to follow Christ and conform ourselves to him, the ultimate goal of our alternating human events. All the stages of life, in fact, can become ways of sanctification with the action of grace and with the commitment and perseverance of each one.
Tomorrow, 2 November, is dedicated to the Commemoration of the faithful departed, it helps us to remember our dear ones who have left us and all the souls on the journey to the fullness of life, on the heavenly horizon of the Church, to which today’s Solemnity has elevated us.
Since the early days of the Christian faith, the earthly Church, recognizing the communion of the whole mystical body of Jesus Christ, has honoured with deep respect the memory of the dead, she offers suffrage for them. Our prayer for the dead is therefore not only useful but necessary, as it can not only help them, but also make their intercession for us effective (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 958). Also visiting cemeteries, while preserving the ties of affection with those who loved us in this life, reminds us that we are all going towards another life, beyond death. May the tears, due to earthly departure, not prevail over the certainty of the resurrection, over the hope of reaching eternal beatitude, “the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace totality” (Spe Salvi, n. 12).
The object of our hope is to rejoice in the presence of God in eternity. Jesus promised this to his disciples, saying: “I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).
Let us entrust to the Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints, our pilgrimage towards the heavenly homeland, as we invoke her maternal intercession for our departed brothers and sisters.
After the Angelus the Pope said:
I am pleased to wish all of you a happy All Saints Day! This wonderful Feast, along with tomorrow’s commemoration of the faithful departed, speaks to us of the beauty of our faith and of the joy that awaits us in heaven with our loved ones who have fallen asleep in Christ. Let us therefore pray earnestly that we may all be joyfully united one day in the Father’s house. God bless you all!
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Pope Benedict XVI, so that they could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Cemetery of Verano
When in the First Reading we heard this voice of the Angel crying a loud to the four Angels who were given power to damage the earth and the sea, “Do not harm earth or sea or the trees” (Revelation 7:3), this brought to mind a phrase that is not here but in everyone’s heart: “men are far more capable of doing this better than you”. We are capable of destroying the earth far better than the Angels. And this is exactly what we are doing, this is what we do: destroy creation, destroy lives, destroy cultures, destroy values, destroy hope. How greatly we need the Lord’s strength to seal us with his love and his power to stop this mad race of destruction! Destroying what He has given us, the most beautiful things that He has done for us, so that we may carry them forward, nurture them to bear fruit. When I looked at the pictures in the sacristy from 71 years ago [of the bombing of the Verano on 19 July 1943], I thought, “This was so grave, so painful. That is nothing in comparison to what is happening today”. Man takes control of everything, he believes he is God, he believes he is king. And wars, the wars that continue, they do not exactly help to sow the seed of life but to destroy. It is an industry of destruction. It is also a system, also of life, that when things cannot be fixed they are discarded: we discard children, we discard the old, we discard unemployed youth. This devastation has created the culture of waste. We discard people.... This is the first image that came to my mind as I listened to this Reading.
The second image, from the same Reading: “A great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues (7:9) The nations, the tribes.... Now it’s starting to get cold: those poor people, who have to flee for their lives, from their homes, from their people, from their villages, in the desert ... and they live in tents, they feel the cold, without medicine, hungry ... because the “man-god” has taken control of Creation, of all that good that God has done for us. But who pays for this feast? They do! The young, the poor, those people who are discarded. And this is not ancient history: it is happening today. “But Father, it is far away ...”. It is here too, everywhere. It is happening today. I will continue: it seems that these people, these children who are hungry, sick, do not seem to count, it’s as if they were of a different species, as if they were not even human. And this multitude is before God and asks, “Salvation, please! Peace, please! Bread, please! Work, please! Children and grandparents, please! Young people with the dignity of being able to work, please!”. Among these are also those who are persecuted for their faith; there “then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘who are these, clothed in white, and when have they come?’ ... ‘These are they who have come out of great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” (7:13-14). And today, without exaggeration, today on the Feast of All Saints I would like us to think of all these, the unknown saints. Sinners like us, worse off than us, destroyed. Of this multitude of people who are in great distress: most of the world is in tribulation. Most of the world is in tribulation. And the Lord sanctifies this people, sinners like us, but He sanctifies these people in tribulation.
Finally, there is a third image: God. First was the devastation; second was the victims; the third is God. In the Second Reading we heard: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what shall be” (1 John 3:2), that is, hope. And this is the Lord’s blessing that we still have: hope. Hope that He will have mercy on His people, pity on those who are in great tribulation and compassion for the destroyers so that they will convert. And so, the holiness of the Church goes on: with these people, with us, that we will see God as He is. What should our attitude be if we want to be part of this multitude journeying to the Father, in this world of devastation, in this world of war, in this world of tribulation? Our attitude, as we heard in the Gospel, is the attitude of the Beatitudes. That path alone will lead us to the encounter with God. That path alone will save us from destruction, from destroying the earth, Creation, morality, history, family, everything. That path alone. But it too will bring us through bad things! It will bring us problems, persecution. But that path alone will take us forward. And so, these people who are suffering so much today because of the selfishness of destroyers, of our brothers destroyers, these people struggle onwards with the Beatitudes, with the hope of finding God, of coming face-to-face with the Lord in the hope of becoming saints, at the moment of our final encounter with Him.
May the Lord help us and give us the grace of this hope, but also the grace of courage to emerge from all this destruction, devastation, the relativism of life, the exclusion of others, exclusion of values, exclusion of all that the Lord has given us: the exclusion of peace. May he deliver us from this, and give us the grace to walk in the hope of finding ourselves one day face-to-face with Him. And this hope, brothers and sisters, does not disappoint!
SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS
Saint Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
The first two days of the month of November constitute for all of us an intense moment of faith, prayer and reflection on the “last things” of life. In fact in celebrating all the Saints and in commemorating all the faithful departed, in the Liturgy, the pilgrim Church on earth lives and expresses the spiritual bond which unites her to the Church in heaven. Today we praise God for the countless host of saints from all ages: simple and ordinary men and women, who were at times “last” for the world, but “first” for God. At the same time we remember our departed loved ones by visiting the cemeteries: it is a source of great consolation to think that they are in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles, the martyrs and all the saints of Heaven!
Today’s Solemnity thus helps us to consider a fundamental truth of the Christian faith that we profess in the “Creed”: the communion of saints. What does this mean: the communion of saints? It is the communion born from faith which unites all those who belong to Christ through Baptism. It is a spiritual union — we are all united! — that is not broken by death, but continues in the next life. Indeed, there is an unbreakable bond between us living in this world and those who have crossed the threshold of death. We, here on earth, along with those who have entered into eternity, form one great family. This familiarity endures.
This wonderful communion, this wondrous union between heaven and earth takes place in the highest and most intense way in the Liturgy, and especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, which expresses and fulfills the most profound union between the members of the Church. In the Eucharist, we in fact encounter the living Jesus and His strength, and through Him we enter into communion with our brothers and sisters in the faith: those who live with us here on earth and those who have gone before us into the next life, the unending life. This reality fills us with joy: it is beautiful to have so many brothers and sisters in the faith who walk beside us, supporting us with their help, and together we travel the same road toward heaven. And it is comforting to know that there are other brothers and sisters who have already reached heaven, who await us and pray for us, so that together in eternity we can contemplate the glorious and merciful face of the Father.
In the great assembly of saints, God wanted to reserve the first place for the Mother of Jesus. Mary is at the centre of the communion of saints, as the singular custodian of the bond between the universal Church and Christ, of the bond of the family. She is Mother, She is our Mother, our Mother. For those who want to follow Jesus on the path of the Gospel, she is a trusted guide because she is the first disciple. She is an attentive and caring Mother, to whom we can entrust every desire and difficulty.
Let us pray together the Queen of All Saints, that she may help us to respond with generosity and faithfulness to God, who calls us to be holy as He is Holy (cf. Leviticus 19:2; Matthew 5:48).
Continue next page ...
23 November 2014